Need to buy shoes. Need to buy shoes. Need to buy shoes…This was the only thought running through my mind when I first walked into this store in a cold February of 2019, thinking it would be selling low-priced shoes for daily wear.
However, the assumption completely turned around. It was a much expensive affair to my dismay. I walked out of the congested store, glancing at all things weird: narrow walk through, bulging ceiling, paper patterns hanging from the roof, dim lights, rainbow colored shoes, hats and bags with messages written all over them and above all an equally colorful man, literally, if only you could ignore his attire. I measured my way back home with an indelible impression on my mind.
Fast forward into an unpredictable month of September 2019, when I had to pick one fashion element in a city like Florence, I couldn’t think of anything or anybody else, just MONDO ALBION, the same shoe artist, who had his store crammed with quirky yet glitzy creations. He is vibrant, zesty, full of beans, dynamic, sparkling, effervescent, high spirited: words may not be enough to describe this wonder: only a glance at him is enough.
If you want to learn the art of living, learn it from him. He is a poser of a poser, a photographer’s delight but as they say nothing comes easy so does he. It wasn’t an easy task to dwell any kind of information from him.
“You cannot ask me everything”
he says, rubbing aside any insight into his shoe business.
Nevertheless, the store dates back to 50 years or perhaps more. And going by his words, he wholly and solely has set up everything. Though you would always notice an aged cordwainer, working intensively at the workshop placed precisely at the entrance of the shop. It was surprising to find out that his store is one of the main attractions for people who are willing to explore the insights of Florence.
More than anything, I wanted to know his age to make a worthy comparison with his undying spirit. And as my mind started making its own presumptions, pat came the reply- “Age of the earth” pointing his finger downwards. For a while, I paused in perplexity. However, the moment I understood his unwillingness to divulge his true age, my mind made a quick correlation with the legendary Karl Lagerfeld. For a matter of fact, he also, had never revealed his actual age.
Not many people know that a few kilometers from the historic center of Florence located on the hill of Giogoli, there’s a 24 hectares farm of olive groves and vineyard, which is famously known as the WORLD ALBION. It is represented as his residence with grandeur and magnificence of 40 double rooms with attached bathrooms, dining rooms, theaters, dressing rooms and many more.
A book penned down by Mondo, listing 30 rules, is presented to each and every person, who enters his dream like atelier. With these rules he professes his love for nature, challenging the society norms and typical conventions. One of the first rules is: Man is born naked, only master of his body and his mind. As he further elaborates:
“The first warrior is deep within us – billions of cells inside our body are throbbing, fighting and struggling, the best must win, inside and outside”
That is the kind of ideology he has always believed in, which has kept him away from the world of big daddies and honchos. Surprisingly enough in the 50s he had exhibited his work in New York and Paris, but for the love of craftsmanship, built his world in Florence.
It is also found that eminent people such as Hilary Clinton, Ginger Rogers and Walter Chiari have adorned his creations. Though he himself diminishes any such acknowledgement. Certainly he can give any designer a run for his money with his unparalleled attitude and enthusiasm. May be it is for people like Albion, that art is defined as the expression and application of human creative skill and imagination: to which this artist is truly devoted.